August 2, 2011

AP Report on ‘Disappointing’ Car Sales Partially Blames Debt-Ceiling Debate

Did you know that car buyers in July took “worries” over the debt-ceiling debate in Washington into account when they decided to buy — or apparently decided not to buy?

Neither did I. But Dee-Ann Durbin and Tom Krisher rolled out that excuse this evening as one factor explaining why July’s car sales were “disappointing,” and then appeared to stuff those words into the mouth of the spokesman for General Motors.

Sale were indeed “disappointing,” up less than 1% of over July 2010, which was described at the time by CNNMoney.com as “Best Since (Cash for) Clunkers, But Still Weak” (that’s the window title; the article title got sanitized later).

Here are several paragraphs from the AP pair’s report (the excuse and the word-stuffing are in bold):

US auto industry uneasy after weak July sales

Auto sales rose only slightly in July as skittish consumers pulled back on car buying and threatened to derail the industry’s fragile recovery.

With the economy weak, popular cars in short supply and dealers offering very few discounts, carmakers endured a third straight month of disappointing sales. Just over 1 million new cars and trucks were sold in the month, up 1 percent from last July and flat with June.

Sales started strong this year but have slowed as the economy faltered and Japan’s earthquake left Toyota and Honda dealers short of popular models. Unemployment rose to 9.2 percent earlier this summer, the highest level this year, and consumer confidence is shaky.

“We’re still not back on the track of recovery yet,” said Jeff Schuster, executive director of global forecasting at J.D. Power and Associates. “There’s definitely some weakness kind of looming out there.”

Adding to buyers’ worries in July was the government debate over the debt ceiling.

“Uncertainty, in our business, is always bad for consumers,” GM Vice President of Sales Don Johnson said.

… Both Ford and GM have scaled back their annual forecast for the year, saying U.S. sales are likely to be closer to 13 million instead of the 13.5 million they had hoped for.

… He said automakers need to accept that the recovery could take longer than they anticipated and shouldn’t panic and resort to discounts to sell more cars.

The final excerpted sentence made me think of this little clip from “Animal House” — “All is well!”

No it’s not, and it has nothing to do with the debt ceiling drama which just transpired.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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